My husband and I always go kayaking wherever we go for vacation. It’s our little tradition and another state crossed off our US kayaking bucket list (aka kayaking in all 50 states). Much of our honeymoon was spur-of-the-moment, including our little adventure with Great Escapes! We had breakfast at Atlantis (a cute family breakfast joint across from the Wyndham Towers) and our waitress suggested checking this company out for our kayaking needs. She said “I went with my nieces last month and the young fella with the blue hair was a good tour guide! He knew stuff about this area that I didn’t know and I have lived here my whole life.”
With that glowing recommendation, we went back to the condo, hopped on the internet, and booked a tour with Great Escapes Kayak Expeditions!
|The whole group paddling through the marshes.|
Their location was a little fluid… I didn’t even know they had a standalone location until after we took the tour (because I booked online)! Anyway, they actually have 2 locations!
1. 900 Heritage Trust Rd Longs, SC 29568
2. 241 Main St (WildFlower) North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582
Phone number and Website
Ease of Access to Site
When you sign up for a tour, they give you the address of where the meet-up/drop-in point is in the confirmation of your order. Thankfully we picked an easy tour through the marshes just north of us near House Creek in the Heritage Shores Nature Preserve. It was about an 8 minute drive and no weird turnabouts like we’ve encountered on previous excursions! Directions were straightforward and simple.
Upkeep of Equipment
The equipment is about what you’d expect from a company that does watersport tours. All in good condition (with some finicky parts. For example, one of my foot rests didn’t slide without some elbow grease). Nothing really fancy or appalling… but no one really remembers the kayaks anyway… they remember the guide(s) and the experience they got (unless the kayak sank or something…).
|#selfie #lame #hashtag|
Tours and Availability
They offer kayak and SUP board rentals, 3 main kayak tours, a 2-4 hour SUP tour, kayak fishing, and seasonal twilight kayak tours (*I say seasonal with a grain of salt because they offered them when we went back in July 2015 but now in Dec 2015, they aren’t listed on the website). Tours are offered morning, afternoon, and evening.
No age restrictions for kayak tours but children under the age of 11 must be in a tandem kayak with an adult.
They bring all the equipment in a large van but there’s no food/drink in there! They do encourage people to bring water (a DEFINITE must for kayaking) and food. They say that a kayak can hold a small cooler (capable of holding a 6-pack of whatever). Alcohol isn’t allowed! Bummer, I know…
Lifejackets are available for those who wish to have one! I always grab one just in case – but they make good back rests too!
The types of tour guides are a big deal to me. I don’t want to get in a boat, be stuck out in open water, and have to suffer through a 3 hour tour with some numbskull that is feeding me the same regurgitated slop that they give every tour. I tend to pick smaller companies that have good people and this is one of those companies.
Don’t let the shaggy or blue hair fool you, the guys that took us around the marsh were extremely knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and kind. They made it extremely interesting and gave us detailed history of the marsh and what preservation projects were going on to help keep the marsh healthy. I am a big question person and it’s great to have someone that knows the answers to whatever I throw at them.
The guides brought a small cooler for themselves and eventually passed out water bottles to everyone in the group. Our water had either been finished off or had gone warm in the sun and the guides didn’t let us go thirsty. Kudos for safety!
Best Time to Visit
With many kayak tours in open water (basically all of them), it’s best to go in the mornings or in the evenings and avoiding the hours of noon to 2:00 pm when the sun is at its highest.
With that in mind, Great Escapes is open year round. During some of the cooler/stormy months, they might have you call for availability before you book.
|I take my time.|
8:00 AM to 11:00 PM every day.
Tips and Tricks
1. Check the weather before you book or call Great Escapes to see if they’re doing tours. If it’s a light rain, they typically paddle out – so don’t be afraid of water.
2. Bring water, wear sunscreen and a hat/sunglasses, a powerbar if its a long tour. I say it on every review I write for kayak tours. Just do it.
3. Book early. All of Myrtle Beach is popular and tours fill up fast.
4. Tip your guides! It’s polite and cash is always fun.
5. Make time to enjoy a beer afterwards and invite the guides or fellow tour members along. Slow down and enjoy life. Take some time to meet new people. They might surprise you!